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St. Robert Bellarmine was born on Oct. 4, 1542 at Montepulciano, Italy. His mother a niece of Pope Marcellus II. Sickly while young, he was educated by Jesuits joining them in 1560 despite his father’s desire that he enter politics. He studied at Jesuit institutions and colleges through 1570 and was ordained at Ghent, Belgium in 1570.

Robert taught theology from 1570 to 1576 at the University of Louvain. He taught polemics at the urging of Pope Gregory XIII from 1576 to 1587 at Collegio Romano. He wrote the most complete defense of Catholicism at the time in the battle against Protestantism. He became a cardinal in 1598.

A prolific writer and theologian, Robert advised popes and even was considered for pope at the conclave of 1621. He died later that year. He was proclaimed a doctor of the church on Sept. 17, 1931. His feast day is Sept. 17.

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